In a romantic affair, there are generally five typical relationship stages that every couple must pass through. In the beginning, there are butterflies in the stomach, and then?
We all have unique love stories. For the most part, that doesn’t stop every couple from going through common relationship stages while creating their romantic love story. From “everything is beautiful, everything is perfect, I’m living a real fairy tale life” through “fed up of never sharing the mental load” or “why did I get into a relationship with this person in the first place” to “he’s more of a friend than a lover”, there are different relationship stages and very various outcomes.
If you are wondering what phase your relationship is in and want to know what will be the next step, and how best to prepare for it, it is important to know the most frequent developments in a romantic relationship. Because we all know that the famous “they got married, had many children, and still living happily ever after” is only in books.
Relationship Stage 1: The Romance Phase
At the beginning of the relationship, we are generally totally euphoric. Like wearing rose-colored glasses. We see our partner in a very perfect way. Flaws, weaknesses? NEVER. The explanation? We don’t see them because certain hormones prevent us from realistically analyzing or getting to know who our beloved partner truly is. You’re just waiting for one thing, which is to see the other person, overwhelm them with attention, and let the excitement build as soon as you’re with the other person.
This first phase, where there’s so much love and passion, lasts between 3 to 18 months (for those who are the luckiest). However, you have to be aware of it: this phase will inevitably pass at one time or another. It’s normal. Yet what comes next is good too and just as important, because being madly in love gives way to a deeper feeling.
This requires that we go through this perfect first phase without too much difficulty and that we agree to switch to another feeling. Unfortunately, many people are addicted to the feeling of butterflies in their stomachs and break up as soon as everyday life takes over. They reject the routine, hoping it would last forever, and opt for a break. However, this is part of the relationship stages every couple must pass through.
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Relationship Stage 2: The Uncertainty Phase
This phase is important and it happens sooner or later in every relationship. This is the moment when the love and passion slowly unravel and you can finally see your partner more clearly – with their weaknesses, their fears, their character, or habits. And yours too.
You know yourself better now and often wonder why you never noticed any of their qualities earlier. At this stage, you are now fully aware of your partner and the relationship. If the expectations of each other can be met, if life goals are similar, and if the habits are consistent with each other, then there is a good chance that it will be a good relationship that will likely last.
This is the time when you decide if you are good together. Unfortunately, at this relationship stage, many couples break up because one or the other – or both – realize that the relationship was not built on solid enough foundations. This is where discussion begin to dwindle. Yet this is the turning point of the relationship. Because it is only from this phase that being in love can be transformed into a deep feeling of love. For some, it will be a dead end, for others, it’s the beginning of a beautiful and solid love story.
Relationship Stage 3: The Power Struggle Stage
Phase three is characterized by small struggles in the relationship over who will have dominance and power. This is usually because the other party has their own mind, and peculiarities and they can be annoying in everyday life. Maybe one of you messed up and doesn’t really get along anymore.
Sometimes, it’s just the toothpaste tube left open that makes you roll your eyes in annoyance. Other times, it could just more than just a little detail that the other person missed – maybe bigger issues. However, anyone who now thinks they can still nurture and reshape their partner to their will is wrong and will learn it the hard way. The good side to this rather difficult relationship stage is that those who cross this phase together will end up in calmer waters. To do this, however, both partners must learn to compromise and accept their partner for who they are.
Relationship Stage 4: The Stability Phase
Water has passed under the bridges. The timing is not always the same for everyone. Sometimes, it’s a little sooner, and other times it could be later, but that’s where the decision is made whether a couple will stay together for the long term.
The little power struggles are over and you look at yourself again. The time has come to reflect. Do I have enough space for myself? Is there also an “I” next to the “we”? Am I still independent? Is the common path we’re taking also the right one for me?
If you can answer these questions in the affirmative, you will see that life as a couple gives both partners security but can also prove to be a good basis to flourish individually and try things that they would perhaps not have dared to as single.
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Relationship Stage 5: The Commitment Phase
Of all the relationship stages, the commitment phase is the best. You reflect and one thing is clear, which is the fact that the other partner is important to you. He/she enriches you and vice versa. No, this has nothing to do with getting married. It means you have totally surrendered to the reality that you and your partner are imperfect humans, therefore your relationship has shortcomings.
You and your partner went through many phases before getting here, endured many storms together, mastered small and big crises together, and it resulted in a close-knit romantic relationship.
In this new relationship stage, confidence is well established. You and your partner can therefore give yourselves freedom without fear. After all, you’ve both worked hard for this for the past few years from struggles, heated arguments, fights, and misunderstandings. You can now live together or independently without one partner feeling neglected. There are no more unrealistic expectations, no more pretenses, and you don’t project anything into your partner that they can’t satisfy at all.
You have come to know yourself and you love yourself as you are. This is love. Without embellishment or fireworks but with sound foundations, common but also independent goals and desires.
Anyone who has gone through all these relationship stages and made it here can count themselves very lucky. It’s love with a capital L, the real one, the only one